Zen and the Art of the Shit Test

Shit tests are a fact of your dating life. You might struggle with how to overcome shit tests, lines to memorize in case she throws a shit test at you, and even having a deep fear of dealing with shit tests. After you read this article, hopefully your view of shit tests will change - after all, they are just a Gateless Gate.

 Shit tests are a fact of your dating life. You might struggle with how to overcome shit tests, lines to memorize in case she throws a shit test at you, and even have a deep fear of dealing with shit tests. After you read this article, hopefully your view of shit tests will change - after all, they are just a  Gateless Gate .

By no means am I a Buddhist monk, hell - I'm not even Buddhist.

Still, like most people from the 80's who spent way too many nights watching the Big Lebowski, reading Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and thumbed through a few books on the subject, I've acquired some anti-knowledge on some of the concepts.

The Great Way has no gate;
there are a thousand paths to it.
If you pass through the barrier,
you walk the universe alone.
— Zen Verse

Anti-knowledge, because to 'understand' Zen is to not understand it. It is free from our consciousness, free from our analytical approach. The moment you seek to grasp it intellectually is the moment you have lost it. 

If this sounds like your understanding of women, you wouldn't be too far off. The masculine and feminine, in eastern terms, are the Yang and Yin, External and Internal, Intellectualism and Intuition, Understanding and Feeling.

It doesn't take many page flips to come across the idea of the Gateless Gate in Zazen.

This is a gate that is impossible to pass for the unenlightened - but for those who have attained it, the gate melts into nothingness. There is no effort required to pass it, as the gate only exists in the mind of rationality. 

In dating, this Gateless Gate goes by another, somewhat more crude term, the Shit Test. 

For those early in their path, the shit test represents an insurmountable obstacle. We look for ways to avoid it, over come it, pierce through it. Sadly, most men simply give up when they are confronted by a shit test. There is seemingly no way around them.

For unenlightened people, every koan is a barrier. For the enlightened person, however, there is no gate, not barrier at all.
— Teisho, The Gateless Gate

Worse, once we are confronted by a shit test and fail to analyze our way beyond the locked doors, we fall prey to obsession. This takes the form of memorizing retorts to specific shit tests, so if confronted we put our faith the our toolbox happens to have the right sized wrench for this particular problem.

Another word for these 'gates' or 'shit tests' are Koans. They are tools to reflect and meditate on to find enlightenment - precisely because they can not be answered with knowledge, books, or logic. They are Gateless Gates. They are basically spiritual shit tests.

All of this is to say something very simple: shit tests reveal to you the way to masculine and feminine integration. They show you how to be whole. Once you "get it", all shit tests are "won" without winning - as there is no conflict to begin with. They are nothing more than symbols of your own mastery. 

Fundamentally, a shit test is her way to testing if you're the 'real deal.' Just as a master may test his student's self-awareness with a Koan. There is no logic - as both a shit test and a Koan are not "solved" by rational thinking.

[Zen] cannot be grasped by intellectual contemplation or by reasoning or philosophical conceptualization. There is no way other than to realize it in our own living experience. It is, therefore, quite foolish to try to understand it by following the meaning of words. It can never b attained that way.”
— Teisho, The Gateless Gate

You can not talk a girl in to believe you have confidence. It is, or it is not. Just as you can not "talk" your way into self-realization. It is, or it is not. 

Therefore, if you approach a shit test with fear, anger or even logic - you have already lost. One should approach shit tests with joy - they are how we as men can come to know the unknowable. They are learning exercises. They breed experience, and wisdom. Not about dating - but about us.

This isn't philosophical, this is based in real experience. For example, say you are a short guy - and a tall women shit tests you for it.

If your gut reaction is to feel pain, self consciousness, and defeat -  then you have met an impassible gate. This shit test, much like a Koan, has revealed a flaw in your core - your attachment to your ego.

Your attachment to the material world. In this example, the problem wasn't haven the right "line" ready to go (remember, that's logic, and logic does not apply). The problem is more deep seeded - your insecurity with something wholly superficial, your height. 

The shit test has revealed to her, but most importantly to you that you have some spiritual steps to climb. You have some work to put into yourself - to let go of these insecurities. 

And that's what makes shit tests so useful. They are ways to test ourselves and see if our inner strength comes from our core, or from external sources like validation, wealth, and ego. Without the shit tests, we'd go through life unaware of ourselves - with the same self validating self image that is burned into our consciousness.

We imagine ourselves as heroes, confident, intelligent, and true. But shit tests - and koans - remind us of our faults and shortcomings, so we can learn to let go of them. 

Even if your eloquence flows like a river, it is of no use.
— Mumon

For those who grasp the essential nature of a shit test, there is no shit test. They have come to peace with their own inner conflict. There is no gate, as within him is nothing, which she can plainly see. 

For those still working on themselves, they will ask these men for answers or help to "pass" shit tests, but they miss the point - because they are trying to understand it. Only by hitting his head again and again on the shit tests - confronting them often by approaching women and through self reflection, will he begin to experience the Gateless Gate first hand.

This is expressed clearly, if one pays attention. Common verbiage is that one just "gets it" - and not to be caught up in too much "theory." To reflect by writing down the "3 best sets, and 3 worst sets." 

That's true, through this process of first hand experience one draws himself further from the literal and rational (intelligence) and closer to the actual and intuitive (wisdom.)

Embrace the shit tests you encounter. Reflect on them. It is through shit test, just as a Koan, that one can experience a deeper realization. Shit tests reveal the chinks in your armor, and also lead you to understand that one is weighed down by the armor itself.

Know yourself and you will win all battles.
— Sun Tzu